100 happy days_week 07

Happy halfway day! Today marks day 50 of the #100happydays challenge. I had a fun weekend away in Newcastle, catching up with and meeting loads of new travel bloggers during Traverse 14. It’s great getting to connect with others who share the same interests and passions.

Reflecting on the past 50 days, this challenge is making me become a lot more aware of looking for a positive in each day. Some days it has been easy and there are a few things that have made me happy and some days are much harder. We all have challenging days and at times it is easy to focus on this, but I guarantee, even on the worst days there is always something that lifts us a little. It doesn’t matter how small as long as we acknowledge and pay attention that there was something good in the day.

If you are not taking part in the 100 happy days challenge, why not try for the next week and see what difference it makes when you put more of your energy into looking for the positives. Let me know if it makes any difference.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the things that have made me happy the past week:

Days 43 and 44

Day 43: Had the best customer service at Leon while waiting for lunch. Because I had to wait a few minutes for my food after being told it was available, I was offered a drink (or slice) as an apology, plus a free hot drink for my next visit. Left with my lemonade a very happy customer.

Day 44: An almost empty platform at Piccadilly Circus after work. Very rare that this happens. It’s only the second time from memory in the past 18 months!

Days 45 and 46

Day 45: Becuase I was heading away to Newcastle for the weekend, Mike surprised me with a dinner date to Lola & Simon. Always nice to spend quality time with loved ones and the food was delicious. We got a cheeky slice of orange cake and a glass of port for dessert.

Day 46: Visiting Newcastle for the first time to attend Traverse 14, Jessi and I were staying on the waterfront and had this view of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge as we walked to dinner along the River Tyne. Kind of reminded me of being in Sydney, which was nice as it’s much closer to home than England.

Days 47 and 48

Day 47: Meeting and playing with other Kiwi travel bloggers Jessi and Ocean at Traverse 14.

Day 48: Making the most of our last morning in Newcastle before catching our train back to London, Jessi and I braved the weather and did a quick sightseeing trip to The Angel of the North. It’s an impressive sculpture and its wing span is the same as a jumbo jet!

Day 49

Day 49: Receiving a thoughtful gift from a friend in the post. I wasn’t feeling well, so it was the best surprise to get a present in the mail all the way from New Zealand. I was spoilt with a book, notebook, pens and a card with a lovely message. Couldn’t have arrived on a more perfect day.

Loving connections,

100 happy days_week 06

I’m feeling particularly positive this week. I’ve spotted blossoms out in bloom and London is getting some sunny, blue sky days. I love Summer (incase you haven’t picked up on that yet). Longer days, being warm, tans, cute dresses and everyone is in a better mood and seems happier.

This past week also saw Valentine’s Day come and go. It was sweet seeing so many men on their way home with flowers and roses for their partners. It’s nice to show loved ones how much they mean to you, but I think it’s important to remember to show those you care about on other days as well, not just on 14 February. Any guys reading – MEGA brownie points for surprise ‘just because I love you / think you’re special’ flowers and cards throughout the year. Same applies for us girls. Boys like nice surprises too even though they pretend to be tough on the outside.

I hope sharing my past week of 100 happy days happiness brings you some cheer in your day. Please feel free to share what has been making you happy in the comments – I love hearing positive things from others.

Days 36 and 37

Day 36: Red phone boxes of London. Sometimes it is seeing such a simple icon that reminds me how lucky I am to be living in London.

Day 37: After reading Niomi’s Courgetti Not Spaghetti recipe I have been hooked on using courgetti with all sorts of meals. Not only is it healthy and a delicious alternative to pasta, but it’s also super easy to make. Use a julienne peeler on a courgette and voila! You have courgetti. Tonight Mr M whipped up courgetti and meatballs. Delish.

Days 38 and 39

Day 38: It was a treat to receive some early Valentine’s Day #TrekLove from Trek America in the post. I appreciated the handwritten note and what girl doesn’t secretly like receiving chocolate?

Day 39: Spending Valentine’s evening with Mr M and fabulous friends.

Days 39 and 40

Day 40: A bit excited to see blossoms in full bloom near home! That only means one thing… Spring is on it’s way! BOOM BLOOM!

Day 41: Sunday was such a beautiful Winter’s day, so decided to make the most of it by going for a walk in a part of London I haven’t been before. We strolled along Regent’s Canal from Paddington, through Little Venice to Camden Markets. Keep an eye out for my next post about the walk.

Days 41 and 42

Day 41: Along the canal seeing this couple sitting on the bridge, watching the world go by as we passed underneath made me smile. They appeared happy in each others company looking out at the view.

Day 42: Photo booth fun in Camden and being silly with friends. Finding these photos in my bag from the day before made me smile.

Blue skies and blossoms,

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Feet

I’ve paid my dues as a backpacker, so a little bit of luxury now and then when travelling is certainly always welcome. Especially when on a relaxing beach holiday. With the end of Winter not quite in sight yet, I find myself daydreaming about Summer and nostalgically looking through holiday photos of my time in Croatia. With a day spent lounging at the exclusive Bonj ‘les bains’ beach club in Hvar and a view like this, it’s easy to see why it creates such wanderlust on these grey London days.

Bonj 'les bains', with Amfora in the background

Bonj ‘les bains’, with Amfora in the background

Located in a private bay we stayed at the premium Amfora, Hvar grand beach resort. Only a few minutes walk along the paved waterfront into the main historic area of Hvar town, Mum and I had our eyes on the waterfront day beds each time we passed Bonj ‘les bains’.

Nestled into the side of a hill, the private beach club has a prime seafront location right into the crystal clear blue water of the Adriatic.

Never in my life have I seen such clear, clean water as what I did in Croatia. Just mind the sea urchin which are abundant in the waters there. You’ll know about it if you get their spikes in your hand, or foot (like poor Mike did in Dubrovnik). We saw a few other victims tourists during our holiday armed with olive oil, which helps draw the spikes out, or you can also use vinegar to help dissolve them. Sea urchins are fussy and only live in clean water, so it is a good sign to see them around, just be cautious.

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Pontoon

Booking our own private pontoon for the day at ‘Bonj ‘les bains’ was easy through the helpful concierge at Amfora. Also part of the of the resort, the beach club is just a minutes walk from the Hotel. Included for up to six adults for the day was a baldachin – a canopy day bed – four sunbeds, an umbrella, towels, our own private stone cabana (a changing area with bi-folding doors and a couch if a break from the sun was needed) and the all important wi-fi.

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Daybed

Not a bad view for the day!

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Reading 2

My parents settled in and got into the groove very quickly.

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Caesar Lunch

While my parents opted to eat at the restaurant for lunch, I had a delicious Caesar salad and Piña Colada (a compulsory holiday cocktail) delivered to the pontoon.

The only time I dragged myself away from the baldachin and seaviews was for a mother/daughter manicure and pedicure spa date near town. If you prefer to be pampered without leaving the comfort of Bonj ‘les bains’, they do have an onsite spa, Sensori Ô.

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Baldachin views

Lying on the day bed, with the curtains gently flapping in the breeze and listening to the water slowly lapping against the rocks, it was a day of pure relaxation and comfort. When the heat of the day got too much, it was easy to slip into the refreshing azure ocean at our feet.

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_My Office

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Working

My dream office! I wouldn’t mind working on a laptop with these views everyday.

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Other Sun Revellers

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Moet

My stepdad knew better than to ask the cost for our day of luxury when a bottle of Moët arrived, which was included in the price. There are other (cheaper) rental options at the beach club for those who just want a sunbed, but we decided to go for the full experience (when in Rome).

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Daybed End Of Day

Bonj Les Bains Beach Club Hvar_Champagne Glass

As the sun set, I toasted to the day and was sad to say goodbye to my luxury pontoon paradise. Luckily upstairs the Bonj ‘steak & seafood’ restaurant & lounge wasn’t too far away for dinner, which served some of the most delicious food we ate on the island. Loved the overall experience and the staff were attentive and helpful.

Seafront paradises,

100 happy days_week 05

Happy GRATI-Tuesday aka Gratitude Tuesday! The past week of 100 happy days has been a fun one filled with signing up for fun fitness events and spending time with friends. I’m finding signing up for new events is a great way of keeping me motivated and on track with my goal of running a half marathon this year.

Have you been taking steps towards your 2014 goals? They only need to be small, but it’s important to be doing something so you get closer to achieving them.

Have a happy week. Here is my round-up of days 29 to 35.

Days 29 and 30

Day 29: A little bit of home comfort in Central London at Sacred. A branch of this antipodean style cafe is close to my work, so its nice to stop by and be surrounded by New Zealand memorabilia.

Day 30: Work beauty sales are always fun for getting new goodies.

Days 31 and 32

Day 31: Due to the tube strikes in London, I got a little creative with my commute to work. Day one of the strikes I walked through Kensington Gardens where I had never been and day two walked past Buckingham Palace and through Green Park. Combining exercise and sightseeing on my way to work. Silver lining.

Day 32: Friday night dinner date with a friend, Laura. Spending time with friends definitely makes me happy and nights with Laura always make me laugh.

Days 33 and 34

Day 33: More weekend catch ups with fabulous friends. I always love catching up with Katie. This girl inspires me a lot. As well as past fitness achievements (walking Machu Picchu and participating in a 100km walking event), she is also a very intelligent entrepreneur.

Day 34: A positive thought for the day at a London tube station. A simple quote with so much meaning.

Day 35

Day 35: Signing up with friends for the happiest 5k on the planet… The Color Run! A fun way to stay motivated with training and literally add more colour into my life.

Adding colour,

Fishermans Bastion Budapest 2

A magnificent fairytale setting, panoramic views, violins and church bells. Not only sounding and looking like something out of a Disney film, Fisherman’s Bastion boasts some of the best views in Budapest from its seven lookout towers.

Visiting between Christmas and New Years, this ornate, hundred year old looking castle will be remembered for an even more memorable reason in my travels.

Parliament Building_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

Our last day in Budapest, and the first sunny day of our Winter Eastern Europe trip, we caught the tram up to Castle Hill for the highly recommended views looking towards the Pest side of the river. We went early to beat the crowds and watched the fog lift, slowly revealing the Parliament Building across the Danube.

Walking around taking photos (as I spend a lot of time doing), I was unaware Mike was intending on proposing and was scouting around looking for the perfect spot while I was distracted. Having already asked permission from my parents nearly three months earlier, my Dad was recruited during our holiday to help.

Picking up the sign, not knowing Mike was behind me.

Picking up the sign, not knowing Mike was behind me yet.

The boys said “Let’s look at the views through here”, so with my Dad leading, we walked through an archway onto a balcony tucked away from other tourists. Without me seeing, my Dad placed a sign Mike had made onto one of the low fortress walls ahead. Nearing the wall, I looked down, saw the sign and picked it up. A little confused it took me a few seconds to realise what was going on. The sign was made up of passport sized photos of Mike holding cut out letters to spell ‘WILL YOU MARRY ME?’ and the last photo was of him holding a ring.

Engagement 02_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

Engagement 03_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

Engagement 04_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

Not realising Mike was behind me, I turned around to ask what was going on (I was a little bit in shock as you can see) and there he was, down on one knee holding out a beautiful diamond ring in a box. With the faint sound of violins being played nearby, there were some happy tears at this point as he said a few words and asked “Will you marry me?”. Of course I said “Yes!”.  It was the most beautiful, treasured moment to share, not to mention the biggest surprise of my life.

With the most coincidental timing (or really well played on Mike’s part), just as I said “Yes”, the church bells of Matthias Church started ringing out in celebration for us.

Engagement 07_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

Mike slid the ring onto my finger, then there was lots of hugs and kisses!

Meanwhile my Dad was discretely to the side and had filmed the whole proposal and engagement. A few people had gathered behind him as they realised what was happening, so we had a small audience who made excited noises of ‘awwwws’ in approval. I love having the video and being able to watch our engagement all over again. It’s our own real life romantic movie moment. Seeing it still gives me butterflies. My Dad felt very honoured to be there and be a part of it (and I am sure my Mum will have watched the video hundreds of times).

Engagement 08_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

The Blacony 2_Post Proposal_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

The Blacony 2_Post Proposal_Parliament Fishermans Bastion Budapest

The setting was incredible. Standing on the balcony, we had the backdrop of Matthias Church (constructed in the 14th Century) behind us, then in the other direction was the Hungarian Parliament Building. My Dad did a great job of capturing everything and it was special to have an impromptu engagement shoot while we were there.

Nicole and David_Matthias Church_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

Mike and David_Matthias Church_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

A proud Dad and his seal of approval!

Musicians Fishermans Bastion Budapest

We stopped to listen to the musicians playing their guitar and violin to take in all of the moment.

Hungaria Irsai Oliver Doux_Piknik Pavilon_Budapest

The Ring_Piknik Pavilon_Fishermans Bastion Budapest

After calling some of our family and friends to tell them the exciting news we went to a cafe nearby – Piknik Pavilon – to celebrate with a bottle of midday bubbles.

I was impressed Mike and my parents had managed to keep it secret for so long and that I had absolutely no idea of what he had been planning. Especially that Mike had researched and chosen the ring all on his own.

So, there on Castle Hill in Budapest, surrounded by views of the Parliament Building and Fisherman’s Bastion we got engaged to the sounds of violins and church bells.

Real life romance,